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Archive for the ‘xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism’ Category

South Dakota legislature moves forward with unconstitutional bill

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 7, 2016

Governor vows not to sign bill if it passes


A South Dakota house bill that would scapegoat refugees by empowering the governor to close the state to incoming refugees has been described as unconstitutional by a law professor, a political science professor and Gov. Dennis Daugaard.  A state legislator claims terrorists will try to blend in with Syrian refugees. Yet, the federal government has a rigorous screening process to prevent that. The Migration Policy Institute points out that of the 784,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. since September 11, 2001, only three have been arrested for planning acts of terrorism, none of which were actually carried out. An article in The Rapid City Journal explains:

South Dakota House Bill 1158, whose goal is to empower the governor to close the state to incoming refugees, has been described as unconstitutional by a law professor, a political science professor and Gov. Dennis Daugaard, the man to whom the power to close the borders would be granted.

Even the sponsor of the bill, a Rapid City Republican lawmaker and Christian pastor, acknowledges that HB 1158 might not withstand a constitutional challenge…

A report released last October by the Migration Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based think tank, revealed that of the 784,000 refugees resettled in the U.S. since September 11, 2001, only three have been arrested for planning acts of terrorism, none of which were actually carried out.

“Actual acts of terrorism by a refugee?” law professor Stephen Legomsky said. “I don’t think there’s been a single one”…

Legomsky, the law professor from St. Louis, is unequivocal: “As a legal matter, the state cannot unilaterally amend the U.S. Constitution.”

The passage of the Refugee Act of 1980 made the federal government the pre-eminent authority of refugee resettlement within the states. The act established the refugee admissions program, which today draws from nine different agencies for the resettlement of refugees in states of the federal government’s choosing.

“It seems pretty clear,” said Elizabeth Smith, an associate professor of political science at the University of South Dakota, “that states don’t have the power to control who settles within their borders. The federal government has authority over U.S. borders, not the states”… Read more here

Posted in legislation, Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota, moratorium / restriction / reduction, right-wing, security/terrorism, South Dakota, Syrian, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St. Cloud Times Columnist spreads misinformation

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 21, 2016


If you have to make your point with lies, what does that say about the value of your message?  A “volunteer” right-wing columnist at The St. Cloud Times named A.J. Kern claims that Muslim refugees are, “pushed on towns by the United Nations.” Ms. Kern doesn’t understand that basic process of refugee resettlement. The U.S. and other nations  participate voluntarily in the UN-run global resettlement program; in our case via The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Refugee Convention), and The 1967 Protocol. Refugees may be referred to the program via the UNHCR, non-governmental organizations trained to refer refugees, or various nations’, including US, embassies. Resettlement is determined via people’s fitting the definition of a refugee as spelled out in the 1951 Convention. No religion is are favored, though in the case of Syria, Sunni Muslims are the overwhelming majority of people escaping the terror of the minority-dominated Assad regime, composed of minority Alawite Muslims, Christians and other groups. Sunni Muslims therefore make up the balk of refugees referred for resettlement from Syria. Ms. Kern also goes on the make nutty , “out there”statements about sharia law, CAIR being a “terrorist” group, and “communist techniques.” An article in The City Pages (Minneapolis) has the story:

Back in September — when presidential hopeful Ben Carson declared that America should never elect a Muslim president because “it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America” — …Republicans not named Trump pushed Carson to apologize to American Muslims. Even bomb-throwing evangelist Ted Cruz (R-Texas) denounced the idea of barring anyone from public office based on religion.

But one columnist from St. Cloud defended Carson.

“Having lived in an Islamic dominant country, I agree with Carson,” wrote St. Cloud Times columnist A.J. Kern…

… Cable access show Speechless MN has had her on to talk about how Muslim refugees are pushed on towns by the United Nations…

Kern, who lived in Iran during the 1970s, was no doubt influenced by the Iranian Revolution… Kern somehow came to view Minnesota’s new Muslim refugees as harbingers of the same oppression.

To prove her point, Kern cites a Wenzel Strategies survey that found 32 percent of American Muslims are in favor of making Sharia law the supreme law of America. This happens to be the same pollster that claimed one in four Americans believed the U.S. would collapse within a decade after Obama’s re-election.

Kern has also written that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights organization, is a terrorist organization. And she’s dismissed St. Cloud’s CreateCommUnity team, Mayor Dave Kleis’ racial harmony program, as being driven by communist techniques… Read more here

Posted in Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, Muslim, right-wing, Somali, St. Cloud, Syrian, UN, UNHCR, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Senator Ted Cruz’s anti-refugee bill fails to gain traction

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 30, 2015


Senator Ted Cruz’s bill to scapegoat refugees by allowing red states to “opt of” refugee resettlement has failed to gain much support since being read twice in the US Senate. An article and video report at KGNS-TV has the details:

LAREDO, TEXAS (KGNS) – A bill giving governors authority to ban refugees from entering their state may not be getting the traction necessary to become law.

Earlier this month, Senator Ted Cruz introduced a bill.

It would grant governors the authority to decline entrance to refugees, if the federal government cannot provide adequate assurance, they are not a security risk.

It would also make it mandatory for the office of refugee resettlement to tell states 21-days in advance of a refugee’s arrival… Read more here

Posted in right-wing, Texas, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Formerly interned Japanese Americans stand up against anti-Muslim prejudice

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 28, 2015


This week, police arrested 55-year-old William Celli of Richmond on suspicion of plotting to harm Muslims. Authorities said he often posted support for Trump and disdain of immigrants on social media. Last week, Public Policy Polling found that about half of Trump supporters in Iowa believed Japanese internment was a good idea. Now, Japanese Americans are speaking out against the wave of anti-Muslim prejudice sweeping the nation. An article in The San Fransisco Chronicle has the story:

At the age of 93, Hiroshi Kashiwagi fears the country hasn’t changed much since he was interned at Tule Lake during World War II, and he empathizes with Muslim Americans who are enduring hate that Japanese Americans like him once endured.

“No one really saw us off,” said Kashiwagi, referring to when he was shipped out to an internment camp — which he referred to as “a prison” — more than seven decades ago. “They were glad to see us go.”

On Tuesday, Kashiwagi, a poet, joined a consortium of Asian American and Muslim American organizations to denounce a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment sweeping the country, fueled, in part, by proposals by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to ban Muslim immigration and enact surveillance of some mosques… Read more here

Posted in Muslim, right-wing, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks out against xenophobia

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 22, 2015


Texas Governor Greg Abbott has tried to implicate Syrian refugees with terrorism, though no known Syrian refugee has ever been associated with terrorist acts. He said, “When we see the dangers caused by Syrian refugees in Paris, it is imperative that Texas do everything we can to make sure we don’t have a Syrian refugee sneak into the state of Texas who can pose a similar terroristic danger.” Yet, all the attackers except for one were European nationals. The remaining suicide bomber was found with a forged Syrian passport, oddly thrown down next to his body as if to draw attention to it. French authorities say fingerprints from the suicide bomber match those of someone who passed through Greece in early October (and there has been no word that these match anyone who registered as a Syrian refugee). In either case, Syrian refugees are entering Europe by boat through Greece under chaotic circumstances, in contrast to refugees entering the US who must submit to two years of intensive background and biometric screenings. Governor Abbott is manipulating public perception to scapegoat Syrian refugees for political gain. Now, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is speaking out against the xenophobia to which Abbott is attempting to appeal. An article at TheTakeAway blog explains:

…Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’… city has taken in more than 1,400 refugees from around the world so far this year. He maintains that it’s the “the spirit of Dallas” to help refugees in crisis—not to turn them away.

“I’m very proud of the faith-based communities here in the Dallas area and citizens that are stepping up,” he says. “The practical matter of this is that refugees themselves do not cause us harm. There have been no terrorist attacks since 9/11 because of refugees.”

Though Mayor Rawlings believes that the Islamic State is an “evil” group that must be destroyed, he argues that turning away refugees out of fear could potentially embolden the terrorist organization.

“I think the infighting we’re having in the United States is problematic,” he says… It’s very important for leaders to be steely eyed, thoughtful, close their mouths at times, and do what’s right for the end objective.”

Taking a more open-minded stance on refugees and the other pressing issues of our time will ultimately produce a winning strategy…

…we can’t be so xenophobic that we shut ourselves off to everything else”… Read more here

Posted in Dallas/Fort Worth, right-wing, security/terrorism, Syrian, Texas, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas’ Effort to Block Syrian Refugees Proves Meritless

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 4, 2015


In an apparent act of admission that it is using the justice system to engage in political posturing, Texas today withdrew its request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state. The state admitted that the US government had provided it with the information it sought – that is, nearly three weeks before filing the lawsuit.  In its court filings the IRC points out that it sent Texas officials a spreadsheet that it proposed resettling 200 to 250 Syrian refugee in Texas in fiscal year 2016 (a timeline showing events from November 16 is found at ABC News).

To save face the Texas Republican administration said it is still seeking an injunction against the federal government to require it to comply with its legal duty to consult with Texas in advance of resettling refugees. The US Justice Department said in its response that the Refugee Act of 1980 requires the government to regularly consult with states about the sponsorship process and distribution among states, but that there is no obligation to offer advance consultation about individual resettlement decisions. The Justice Department reiterated that the state has no legal authority to block the resettlement of government-approved refugees.

The response also called Texas’ fears over security unfounded and that Texas “has made no showing that these refugees pose any threat, much less an imminent one, to the safety or security of Texas residents or any other Americans. The federal government pointed out that refugee vetting is thorough and, on average, can take up to two years. Reuters has the details:

Texas on Friday withdrew its request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the imminent resettlement of 21 Syrian refugees into the state, saying the U.S. government had provided it with the information it sought on the group.

The move came just hours after the U.S. Justice Department filed papers in a federal court in Dallas, saying the state did not have the authority to act on national immigration policy and could not bar the refugees from resettling.

The relief agency that plans to resettle the Syrians in the coming days filed a separate motion at the U.S. District Court in Dallas, contending that Texas could not discriminate against refugees on the basis of nationality because that violates U.S. civil rights laws… Read more here

Posted in Dallas/Fort Worth, Dept. of Justice, IRC, Syrian, Texas, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

If New Jersey cuts off Church World Service, it will get funds elsewhere

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 30, 2015

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is one of the 31 governors – 30 Republican – that have said they will not accept Syrian refugees. He directed the New Jersey Department of Human Services, which regrants federal resettlement funds to resettlement agencies, not to resettle any Syrian refugees. Some states have been using that position to threaten the agencies to get them to withhold services – something they have no legal authority to do. An official with Church World Service in Jersey City says his agency will find funds elsewhere if necessary. An article in Nonprofit Quarterly has more:

Earlier this month, Governor Chris Christie directed the New Jersey Department of Human Services not to resettle any Syrian refugees in that state, although the state has a Syrian community with a 150-year history…

“We don’t believe the directive the governor put in place is necessarily enforceable,” said Erol Kekic, executive director of immigration and refugee programs for Church World Service. “Immigration is a federal issue. He can’t control who lives in his state.”

…even though governors do not have the power to exclude refugees (according to the Refugee Act of 1980) and the U.S. Department of State oversees their screening and resettlement, states are responsible for regranting federal dollars to local resettlement nonprofits, and some states have been using that position to block resettlement through threatening nonprofits with state contracts in order to get them to withhold services from Syrian refugees. Kekic, however, has declared that if the state were to cut his agency off, they could get funds elsewhere.

Rabbi Philip Bazeley of the Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, where congregants have been raising money for refugees….is quoted as saying that politicians are making “xenophobic” comments and playing on people’s “fear of the other” to make political points.

“As a Jew,” Rabbi Bazeley says, “that worries me tremendously”… Read more here

Posted in CWS, Jewish, New Jersey, Syrian, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Exodus Refugee Immigration files suit against Indiana Governor

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 24, 2015


The refugee resettlement agency Exodus Refugee Immigration with the assistance of the ACLU has filed suit against Indiana Governor Mike Pence and the Family and Social Services Administration, claiming the state government violated the US Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in denying support for Syrian refugees. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop the governor from taking any actions to suspend, block or withhold aid from refugees or from Exodus. The governor joined 30 other governors last week in an attempt to illegally block Syrian refugees from resettling in their states; immigration be exclusively the province of the federal government. The lawsuit claims the Indiana state government has also violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin in programs receiving federal government financial assistance. An article at ABC News has the story:

A lawsuit challenging the Indiana governor’s decision to stop state agencies from helping resettle Syrian refugees alleges that the action wrongly targets the refugees based on their nationality and violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the federal lawsuit Monday night on behalf of Indianapolis-based nonprofit Exodus Refugee Immigration. It accuses Gov. Mike Pence of violating the U.S.

Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by accepting refugees to Indiana from other countries but not from Syria.

The first-term Republican governor objected to plans for refugees to arrive in Indiana following the deadly attacks in Paris. Five days after the Nov. 13 attacks, a family that had fled war-torn Syria was diverted from Indianapolis to Connecticut when Pence ordered state agencies to halt resettlement activities… Read more here

Posted in ACLU, CWS, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Indiana, Syrian, Uncategorized, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

First Governor to Urge Pause Unable to Point to Single Concern in Refugee Screening

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 21, 2015

refugee logo2

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder who was the first of more than 30 mostly Republican governors to attempt to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees, was unable to point to a single problem with the current refugee security checks system when asked by reporters.  The only thing he was able to come up with was the need for a nebulous “review.” Of course, a highly rigorous security system is already in place.  Also having problems explaining what concerns there may be about the current two-year screening process for refugees seeking to enter the U.S. was Governor Rick Scott of Florida.  This week while making the rounds on news outlets to explain his decision to block new Syrian refugees from coming to Florida, Scott criticized President Obama’s administration for not providing background information to Florida law enforcement agencies.  When asked what specific information his administration had asked for that it hadn’t received, Scott replied, “They don’t provide any information.”  When reporters repeatedly asked if the State had asked for any information that it had not received, Scott was unable to refer to any information his administration had requested.  New Jersey governor Chris Christie said his state will not take in any refugees – “not even orphans under the age of five”.  Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal said he has directed state police to “track” the Syrian refugees in his state, which Louisiana state police then quickly played down.  Articles at Think Progress and National Public Radio gives Governor Snyder’s responses:

Michigan’s Rick Snyder was the first governor to urge a pause in admitting Syrian refugees into the United States. He triggered a national debate about refugee resettlement, and insists now that he only wants answers…

If we get to the point where we can say that review has taken place and people are confident that we have a system to let in people who have had their lives shattered, and at the same time can keep out the bad guys, hopefully we can start the process again of accepting refugees

“I wouldn’t single out any specific problem I have with it” … Read more here

Posted in Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, right-wing, security/terrorism, Syrian, Uncategorized, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Scapegoating Refugees for the Terror They Flee

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 20, 2015

75 Million Visitors to the U.S. Each Year – Why No Calls to Pause Tourism?


After the vote in the US House today to restrict Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the US why have there been no calls to tighten the flow of foreign visitors to the country?  Total international visitors to the US are projected to be more than 75 million in 2015, following 75 million that visited in 2014. If security is of paramount security why would the US Congress have no concern about the millions of visitors who receive less rigorous background and security checks than any of the 70,000 refugees resettled to the US last year?  Refugees receive more scrutiny than other other class of visitor (there were also 819,644 international students at institutions of higher education in the United States in a recent academic year). The answer is that Congressional representatives don’t believe there is a security threat from Syrian and Iraqi refugees – the people fleeing terrorism.  If they did they would have voted for a “pause” in international tourist travel to the US.  The reality here is appealing to the public’s fears for political gain, with refugees — the people with the least amount of power and most vulnerable — used as the scapegoats.  Some Democrats (47) have joined 242 Republicans (only two Republicans voted nay), which would require the FBI director to certify the background investigation for each Syrian or Iraqi refugee admitted to the United States, and Homeland Security and intelligence officials would have to certify that they are not security threats — a process FBI director Comey calls “impractical”. The vote for this bill reminds me of the Congress’ disastrous vote, also supported my many democrats, to authorize the 2003 war in Iraq in search of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Will history look upon these actions similar to how we now regret that war in Iraq, the rejection of Jewish refugees at the onset of the Holocaust, and the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World  War II?  An article in The Guardian explains the House vote:

The House of Representatives has approved legislation that would make it even more difficult for refugees from Syria and Iraq to enter the United States, in a major rebuke to the Obama administration’s refugee policy.

The White House has already said the president will veto the legislation if it is also passed by the Senate. However, if today’s margin in the House was repeated in both chambers of Congress following a presidential veto, Congress could override such a veto. The measure is unlikely to receive a vote in the Senate because of the 60-vote super-majority needed to consider a bill under Senate rules… Read more here

Posted in Iraqi, legislation, right-wing, security/terrorism, Syrian, Uncategorized, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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